Reply to post: HDD vendor way back

Are Disk Drive Vendors screwed (by flash)?

Chris Mellor 1

HDD vendor way back

Your piece on the death of traditional HDD vendors is interesting, but I wonder if there is a way back for the likes of Seagate and WD? It seems to me that today we have something of a cartel on the supply of flash memory chips, as a result of which we see artificially inflated prices for emerging SSD drives (£350-£450 for a Samsung 840 Pro 512Gb, for example, which is many multiples the price of a top-of-the-range 2 or 3Tb HDD).

This is because the emergent dominant players in this market are currently milking it for all they are worth. It's often the way, and if a market stagnates with 2 or 3 major players, we see little or no commercial pressure to innovate or reduce prices (think Microsoft in desktop, or even say Canon/Nikon in cameras, Nintendo/Sony/Microsoft in games consoles, etc,etc ).

So a possible route back for Seagate and/or WD would be to purchase a Flash Memory fabrication plant and then run out a line of decent quality drives that seriously undercut the existing cartel. Give the market say 1Tb Flash drives for an initial £500 [aiming to drop to £400 when the inevitable fightback begins] and there's the chance of winning back market share.

If they wanted to do this, Seagate/WD could fight back with say last year's SSD technology (one die size large fabbing, slightly lower clock rates) which may enable them to buy up fabrication gear on the cheap. They won't be able to compete with Samsung/Kingston/etc in performance terms, but as long as they offered a drive that was markedly faster than the best HDD and seriously undercut the cartel, they may succeed.

The one thing SSD doesn't have today is a high-capacity drive. Samsung/WS could do it. Question is, after the relatively recent floods in Thailand, and the time, trouble and effort they undoubtedly put into recovering their HDD fabrication capacity, have they got enough left in the tank to scale up a serious SSD challenge. I suspect we'd learn that the flooding is a much larger factor here than merely being caught asleep at the switch...

[Sent to me]

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